At the beginning of March 2019, folks could take on the second annual Conquer the Wall Challenge in Williamson. The event is the brainchild of Alexis Batausa, the current president of the Tug Valley Road Runners Club. He came up with the idea after participating in the Darkside Running Festival in Georgia. At the festival, runners ran a course over the span of a few days. Alexis was inspired by this event and thought that he could help create a similar event in Williamson. He got together with a couple of friends, and together, they came up with the Conquer the Wall 35-hour endurance challenge.
What is the Conquer the Wall Challenge?
This year, the challenge has extended to allow participants to choose between running for 35 or 47 hours. In that time, they can complete as many laps as possible. The race takes place on a 2.05-mile course in West Williamson and utilizes some of the walking trails in the area. Participants who complete 100 miles receive a prize of a golden belt buckle. There are also silver belt buckles for those who complete 50 miles, and participation certificates and dog tags for everyone who takes part.
Since the event was timed, participants wore ankle bracelets that kept track of the number of laps completed. Tents were set up along the course with coffee, food, and water, and the Kiwanis Community Center was made into a headquarters for the event with showers and cots.
An Outsider’s Perspective
Brad Compton, a participant from Fort Wayne, Indiana, heard about the Conquer the Wall Challenge on Facebook in 2018. He took part in the 2018 challenge, and had “a wonderful experience.” He was glad to be back in Williamson to take part in 2019.
He was not only impressed by the race itself. “The community is so supportive of us! The food that is donated, the community center being made available for us to use and sleep in, and the enthusiastic well-wishes are appreciated very much.” He also enjoyed the landscape of Williamson. “Those of us from outside the area love the mountains!” Compton says.
At the first event in 2018, there were 26 participants from several states. Only a year later, the event swelled to include almost 70 runners, who came from as far away as California, and even Brazil!
Alexis is “pleased with how everything turned out” and says he was excited by how “different and fun” the event was. “The people, the volunteers, our running club, the food, the hospitality, and the weather helped shape an amazing weekend… it’s just a great event bringing everyone together like a family reunion!” says Alexis.
Alexis is already planning next years Conquer the Wall Challenge. The date is set for March 6 through March 8, 2020. They plan to see the number of participants double to more than 100.